YouTube has been working a lot with the majors when it comes to getting movies online. Now it’s using indie 2010 Sundance Film Festival to test rentals, announcing today via the YouTube blog that it will offer five festival films. The run is as limited as the festival: U.S. only, with rentals being offered from Friday through Sunday, Jan. 31.
But that’s just the high-profile start. The Google (NSDQ: GOOG) video portal says it also will be adding a “small collection of rental videos from other U.S. partners across different industries, including health and education” after the festival — and will invite “a small group of partners across other industries” to take part. In addition, YouTube will be recruiting indies at the festival through a “Filmmakers Wanted” campaign.
YouTube makes its case in the blog: “Anything that brings more content to the YouTube community is a good thing. And making content available for rent will give our partners unprecedented control over the distribution of their work — they can decide the price of their videos and the rental duration; they can decide when and where their content is available; and they can keep 100 percent of their rights.” The Sundance videos are priced at $3.99 each.
Google and YouTube are far from the only site for indies or others who want to share video and get paid for it. But YouTube could be a formidable source of views and incomes — if people can get used to paying.